Archaeologists have discovered a massive geoglyph of a cat on a hillside in southern Peru, making it the newest of the Nazca Lines. With it, a group of enigmatic and huge human-made outlines of animals, plants, and bizarre figures in the desert dating to Pre-Columbian times was uncovered in recent years, according to Peru’s Ministry Of Culture.
The Nazca Lines, a Unesco World Heritage site, is home to designs on the ground – known as geoglyphs – created some 2,000 years ago.
Researchers believe the cat, as with other Nazca animal figures, was created by making depressions in the desert floor, leaving colored earth exposed.
“The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” Peru’s culture ministry said in a statement this week.
“Over the past week, the geoglyph was cleaned and conserved, and shows a feline figure in profile, with its head facing the front.” It said the cat was 37 meters long, with well-defined lines that varied in width between 30cm and 40cm.
“It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the lines, told the Spanish news agency Efe.
“Over the past few years, the use of drones has allowed us to take images of hillsides.”
Isla said between 80 and 100 new figures had emerged over recent years in the Nazca and Palpa valleys, all of which predated the Nazca culture (AD200-700). “These are smaller in size, drawn on to hillsides, and clearly belong to an earlier tradition.”
The researchers said the cat had been put out during the late Paracas era, which ran from 500BC to AD200. “We know that from comparing iconographies,” said Isla. “Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats, and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”